Valve Walks Back Its Stance On Balancing Artifact Cards

Digital card game Artifact received some crowd-pleasing changes yesterday, and thank God, because players have been bleeding out of the game since its late November launch.

The new update gives Artifact a levelling system, which comes with rewards like card packs, and independent skill ratings, which starts at one and caps at 75. “Over the season, every victory against an opponent with a higher Skill Rating will raise your own,” Artifact’s update reads. Skill ratings will be independent between constructed and draft modes, which can rely on separate skillsets. Also, skill ratings will remain the same throughout each season, which lasts a couple of months, before it’s refreshed.

One big change — and a surprising one — was balance changes to Artifact cards. In the past, Artifact’s developers wrote, they planned to only adjust or ban cards in “extremely rare cases.” The developers added, “Our initial approach to the game was to follow this type of methodology and keep balancing changes as a last resort, in large part because we thought players valued immutability very highly.” After receiving a lot of feedback, the developers made a 180.

Most notably, a huge nerf fell on Artifact’s priciest card, Axe, which was going for $US30 ($42) at one point, PC Gamer reports. Seven other cards received changes, too, including Cheating Death, Jasper Daggers and Drow Ranger.

To compensate players who shelled out for these bad boys, Artifact is now offering to buy back the rebalanced cards.

Explaining their philosophical change on card-balancing, the developers write:

“In the end, we struggled to see the benefits of immutability outweighing the numerous downsides. The average player mainly wants the game quality to be high above all other considerations. Players who focus a lot on deck building would prefer a more diverse and engaging meta to play around. While some card collectors enjoy having a small number of really valuable cards, many others are happier in a world where the full set value isn’t overly dominated by one or two cards. . . Starting with today’s update, we will be taking an incremental approach to balancing, with the primary goal being to improve the gameplay quality over time.”

Artifact’s subreddit seems to be celebrating the changes. One poster said it best: “I like this new Valve.”


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